Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Toe-Up Love and Dealbreakers

The third time has been the charm with the toe-up experience. The two-part class ended on Tuesday and it was so much fun. Our instructor Cynthia from Stitch Your Art Out near State College (one of our many fine LYSs in Central PA) has so much patience and did an excellent job of hooking us up with the new technique. Because I was late I ran out the door and distractedly grabbed a ball of yarn from my stash. I thought that it was some Claudia's Hand Painted that I had purchased at her store many months ago, but when I got home I realized that instead it was some Sundara (oops, sorry Cynthia! I didn't mean to be the jackass that brings outside yarn to the class). As you can see it is heavenly and pure perfection...

In any relationship there are points of contention that are so strong that they indeed become insurmountable and as such constitute dealbreakers. Luckily for my husband none of my charming traits like buying really expensive French shampoo and then throwing the not-even half used bottle out several months later to make room for more French shampoo isn't a dealbreaker. Likewise for me his strong need to dig through the trash in an effort to bust me and castigate me for my profligate ways isn't one either. (I think it's kind of cute, actually.) But were I to discover for example that he secretly thought all gay people were going to hell or that he actually preferred Miracle Whip to real mayonnaise...well, that my friends would be the end of the line.
It occurs to me that the concept is applicable to that other major relationship in my life, knitting. (Of course with your own kids there is no such thing as a dealbreaker--you're in it come hell or high water, right?). With certain projects that are some mistakes that are 'fudgeable' as Cynthia the toe-up sock guru says, meaning that if you find yourself a bit off, you pick up a stitch and move one. Not a big deal. Please, it's the bottom of the heel, and they're just socks for Chrissakes...And then there are errors that are annoying enough that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can't live with them. You must rip them/fix them/make them go away asap. Not remedying them is not even a thinkable thought. They are dealbreakers. However the problem here is one of adjudication-- knowing in the heat of the moment which it's going to be is the real issue.

Thursday afternoon I cast on for the Katharine Hepburn cardigan from Lace Style. I've been wanting to try my hand at this for months as I am a cable fiend and strongly attracted to the chic retro style of the pattern. I have also been itching to use some recently acquired Louet Gems. Casting on took f-o-r-e-v-e-r (counting over and over made me feel like a character in a Beckett play) and let's not even talk about the set-up row. When I finally got beyond the first cable row (3 hours later as I had to pause for cocktails, a lengthy phone conversation with my brother in which we discussed how much we were looking forward to Paris Hilton going to jail, cobbling together a dinner which involved copious amounts of frozen vegetables, and wielding the threat of no television for the foreseeable future unless the kiddie-winkies practiced their various instruments), I realized that I had done a left-twist cable on the second half of the back. Stinkbaskets! Yes I was supremely annoyed, but I knew with absolute certainty that there was NO WAY I was ripping back to fix the problem. This was most definitely not a dealbreaker. Now if I were to discover that my gauge were massively off, or that there were fundamental errors in the entire pattern, it would be another story entirely. But as it turns out, the five misbegotten cables are no big deal to this slacker knitter. But I am sure that for many of you persnickety types, this would be an untenable situation. That's cool, no judgement (hehe)... I am wondering what constitutes a dealbreaker for you? How do you know when to say when? What can you live with, and what can't you stand?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A torrid on-going romance, the first blush of love, kicked to the curb...and prizes!

A Torrid on-going Romance
I am still in the midst of a Cookie A./Monkey socks love fest. Adding to my extreme knitting euphoria is the Brooklyn Handspun in Jungle Canopy that I am using. I nabbed it sometime last year from Kpixie with a gift cert that blogless Babs gave me (she also posted a comment to the contest, which was very exciting especially given her shyness. Besides being the heavyweight champion of my knitting world, she is, as she characterizes herself, a bit of a 'trapdoor spider'). The whole Monkey/Brooklyn Handspun package is just working for me in a way that is so satisfying.

The First Blush of Love
I am also deriving complete satisfaction from another recent knitting development: I am a new inductee in the toe-up sock knitters cabal! Yes, I'm one of the cool kids now. I took a class here
last Tuesday and will return tomorrow for a follow-up. I have to say that I might be a new convert. I faltered a bit at first, but once I wised up and switched to the Magic Loop method, it was a cinch. Is it just me or are Magic Loop and toe-up just a natural together? The toe-up technique is a winner and I am loving it. However I am still wrestling a bit with that pesky hole that is happening right at the instep, so any input you have regarding that would be much appreciated.

Kicked to the Curb
One thing I am not loving however is the extreme splotchiness of the Trekking I am using. I decided the sock that I was originally going great guns on (as my 80 year old dad would say) was quickly destined to become no more than an anklet as the misplaced and unwelcome blotches of color that are everywhere are making the garment not worthy of full blown sockness. After realizing how utterly messed up this skein was, I started breaking off the yarn and reconnecting it, but seriously now, is that really an acceptable solution? Ugh. I know at least one other knitter has talked about this phenomenon, but have you ever encountered this before? I know it's machine made and all that, but still...the level of imperfection of this skein is disappointing. I'm thinking that Trekking might be getting kicked to the curb pronto.

...and Prizes!
Gee, all this hating on the poor little damaged skein of Trekking is almost making me wish I didn't have to give these other skeins of Trekking away and inflict them upon other hapless knitters, but I must keep my word. After much tussling and pinching one another (?), the two kiddie-winkies have pulled the names of two winners out of the hat...Beverly and iSeL, come on down, you are winners! Thanks to everyone for your most enjoyable comments. I found it particularly intriguing that many were nearly done in by a project and then by virtue of working through the challenges of that same project, had their faith restored. mean actually
working hard to solve problems and not casting projects aside in disgust actually makes you a better knitter? Hmmm. [insert 1970s sitcom robotic voice bleeping does not compute does not compute here]. I'll have to think that one over some more...maybe you're on to something...In any case, I learned a lot from all of you and appreciate your insights.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's not you, it's me; BBQ skewers...and a contest!

I am fully expecting any day now to receive a 'cease and desist' order from Grumperina* telling me to quit slagging on her pattern. All over the knitblogosphere I've blasphemed it, told my tale of woe to whomever would dare even breath mention of the J-word. I don't know what it is precisely about this pattern that has inspired such bile on my part. It must be some disastrous cosmic alignment and convergence of the pattern, the size 1 needles that are now warped beyond recognition, incidentally,(kabobs, anyone?) and the Opal hand painted yarn, which basically feels like twine at this point.

I'm sorry, Jaywalkers, it's just not working out between us. It's not you, it's me.

You might recall my last post which prematurely sounded the death knell of sock knitting round these parts. Right when I was about to permanently throw in the sock knitting towel, enter a pattern so utterly awesome, so undeniably
right on that the sheer magnitude of its power has yet to be properly comprehended and documented.

People, I am talking about the Monkey sock.

The Monkey sock. The sock that has single handedly restored my sock knitting mojo and brought me back away from the dark place. Coaxed me off the ledge. Shown me that it's not all of sock knitting that has me down, but rather one unfortunate, abusive, co-dependent knitting relationship. Jaywalkers, I'm breaking up with you. Cookie A., I want to have your baby. Run away with me, won't you?

The highs and lows of this wild roller coaster ride of sock knitting emotions has gotten me thinking about various patterns and projects, and inspired my first ever contest. Also, this my 100th post, and I love to see people duke it out over prizes.

There are two skeins of Trekking up for grabs, one for someone who has never posted before (yes I'm a blog whore) and another for an old timer. Post your answer to the question below before Monday, May 28th and you might score pay dirt! Tween thing and Peeper-lou will help determine the lucky winners.

Question: What pattern/project has nearly done you in, has kicked your knitting a**, so to speak, and what was the pattern that rescued your faith in knitting?

*please know that I think Grumperina is an amazing, gifted designer and that my recent Jaywalker travails are all of mine own doing, completely my own fault, and in no way reflect on her talents, which are well known by anyone who has either had success with the Jaywalkers (hate all of you) or any of her other patterns...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mittens are the New Socks...

We're all familiar with the following formula: '
______is the new ______'. I believe Diana Vreeland is responsible for the adage "pink is the new black". Some terribly deluded woman whose throbbing ovaries were ticking like a time bomb perpetrated upon us "40 is the new 30", which I am here to tell you is so not true by the way. I've also heard that "Queens is the new Brooklyn", which I want very much to be true, but have yet to really believe. However I have alighted on a formula that does indeed prove to be valid, at least for this knitter: Mittens are the New Socks.

Let me explain.

Once upon a time I looked to the simple sock for its healing, curative powers. What exactly did it represent? A breather from a long haul sweater or tedious scarf. A microcosm of all the techniques you could ever want in a project. Low-cognitive load knitting. A fast moving project that progressed at a nice clip. Right when you were on the verge of getting sick of the leg,
voilà, you were on to the heel flap, and interest was maintained. Heel flap tedium? No matter, you're turning the heel now, and what could be more exciting? And just when you'd had quite enough, you were done...and knitting satisfaction ensued.

Enter more complicated patterns that require a higher level of attentiveness. Guess what? Socks aren't moving so fast anymore, are they? Case is point: the Jaywalkers. I know it seems that I'm always picking on this pattern, but I have been working solely on this pattern for the past week and am inching forward at a snails pace. Suddenly socks are not doing it for me anymore.

Hello A.D.D. Knitter, meet your new best friend: the mitten. One of the things I picked up at MDS&W was a bunch o' Morehouse Merino kits. Suddenly remembering where I had stashed these puppies, I dug one out with a hunch that it would prove to be a salve to my sock-frustrated soul. And I was right. The sheer simplicity of the mitten makes it a joy to behold. I started these mittens late Thursday night at the tennis court watching my daughter play, worked on them during a hair appointment on Friday, brought them back to the courts yesterday afternoon, and am now fondly gazing at a finished object. Now that's more like it!

The Specs:

Pattern: Morehouse Merino Variegated Mitten Knitkit

Yarn: Morehouse Merino 3-Strand in Indian Summer

Needles: size 5 dpns

I know that knit bloggers love their socks, and I love mine as well. But sometimes putting them down for a carefree spin with another less consequential, low stakes project is the right formula for success...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More than you ever wanted to know...

So in the last 12 hours I seem to have been tagged about 7 times to participate in a meme where you reveal 7 random facts about yourself. Now, the number 7 is undeniably lucky and the concept of the randomness has always produced interesting results...but it's the 'yourself' part of it that's giving me reason for pause. You see, the part of blogging that is the most appealing to me is that you are presenting to the world a certain persona, a tidied up, better version of yourself. You get to fashion a version of yourself for public consumption. You may have perhaps noticed that my picture appears no where on this site. Why? Insecurity...maybe you'll unsubscribe when you see 'the real me' (although all you smarty pants/lit crit/theory people who read this site know that it's a construct anyway, right?). Yes, the A.D.D. Knitter is one sad tomato...

So, with much trepidation: "Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog."

1. I have two different colored eyes: one is brown and the other is green. Small children and make up artists at the Bobbie Brown counter find this fascinating. The former because it is freakish and the latter because it presents unique eye shadow palette choice challenges.

2. There is another part of me that is not perfectly symmetrical. This caused my mother, upon seeing me within the last year with my shirt off, to comment in her inimitable British way, "You know, if you were to ask a plastic surgeon to correct that problem, he would probably not be against it".
If I were....probably not be against it...seriously, does anyone do circumlocution better than the English? No.

3. My grandfather was a famous cartoonist, he drew the Phantom. His only son, my dad, has had several fascinating careers, which have included Proctor and Gamble Soap salesman, J and L steel salesman, a printer, an administrator of a family planning clinic (Catholic kids weren't allowed to play with me and my brother), and curator of a museum of quack medical devices. He's an American original.

4. I am a skin care products whore. I have spent more money on Clarins products than I have on yarn.

5. When I was in high school, I created my very own fake id from scratch with my dad's offset printing equipment and laminating machine. I assumed a French identity and got into a club in Minneapolis to see the English Beat, PIL, the Ramones, the Replacements and many other bands. I used it to see bands, not to drink.

6. I lived with my first husband in Marrakech, Morocco off and on for 2 years. We lived with his family and it was one of the happiest times of my life.

7. When I was 11, our family won a year's supply of Clark candy bars. After school my brother and I would raid the box which was in our laundry room. I have very strong recollections of the feeling of plenitude that this box gave me.

You're tagged:
The Lone Knitter
Gingersnaps with Tea
Skeins Her Way
Mistress Stash Enhancer
Professor Knitwit
For the Love of Stitches
Life With...

Still with me?

I have finished another sock for the DRMC. It's official name is the Doug Henning sock or the Queer Pride sock--take your pick. He's very happy with it, and since it's all about keeping him happy, well, I'm happy!

Doug Henning/Queer Pride sock specs

Pattern: LYS boooring stockinette affair. I need to get out more.

Yarn: Regia 4-fach haltbar. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Needles: Two circs, the best technique ever in the history of the world.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Summer Knitting Goals: Over Ice with a Twist of Lime, please!

The semester wrapped up on Friday, and all that lies between me and several uninterrupted months of daily 5pm gin and tonics (alternating with Pimms), masturbatory uploading of pictures of my obscene yarn stash to Flickr (as it's the only conduit to Ravelry), and, of course, round the clock stitching, is a stack of student portfolios. And then people, it'll just be me, a bottle of Bombay Blue Sapphire, and a shitload of knitting...

Ali, one of the principal designers over at Blue Sky Alpaca and the blogger behind Skeins Her Way, is sponsoring a clever little contest. She wants to know what everyone's summer knitting goals are, and because of my career in Crapademia (thanks for that one Knitting Philistine!), I am a perpetual adolescent on the precipice of summer, whereas I imagine that for adults not still living on the semester timetable, it's just mid-May. So here are my goals:

#1. To make some headway through the Koigu zip code in my stash. There just feels like way too much Koigu there and it's starting to make me seem like a yarn glutton.

#2. To lovingly fondle said Koigu while I engage in the ultimate self-love for today's modern knitter: uploading pictures of my stash to Ravelry (massive amounts of people are being added daily, so if you're feeling like you're on the outside looking in, that will change very very soon!) and imaging all the pretty little things I'll make with it...

#3. To put my knitting down everyday at 5pm for gin and tonics, (alternating with Pimms). Hey, my mother is English, I'm genetically programmed to have bad teeth and drink the above-mentioned drinks heavily, without getting drunk, just red in the face.

#4. To finish a substantial project, like the Audrey tank, but not to get torqued out of shape about it or let it interfere with #3.

There you have my goals. Go enter Ali's contest, let her know that I sent you, and may the best lush win!

Now, I have a finished object to show you all, lest you think I'm all talk and no completion:

Socks for the Darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon and his Proletarian Feet

Pattern: LYS pattern

Yarn: Karabella Aurora Mélange, colorway #18

Needles: #5 dpns

Gauge: 48 sts over 3 needles, 1 x 1 ribbing, then straight stockinette

These were fun, fast, and the recipient is so pleased with them, which is always nice. Upon receiving them he noted that "the yarn feels deluxe" and wondered if it "was expensive"...
now can you guess which one of us if the fiscally responsible of the two? He may be grouchy at times, and boy o boy is he holding on to those purse strings tight, but he sure does appreciate a FO with his name on it...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool: Strip and Do Me!

Let's just say that all the hyperbole surrounding 'Maryland Sheep and Wool' is appropriate and commensurate with the utter kick-assness of the event. The hype is not missplaced...Where to begin?

Because a long and demanding semester has taken a bitter toll on my fragile nerves , the last thing I wanted to deal with was the mayhem and feeding frenzy (unless of course we're talking about funnel cakes) of a Saturday at MDS & W, so Little Peeper (Tween thing's knitting younger sister) and I decided that a Sunday visit was in order. Highlights included:

-watching a woman spin angora yarn from a rabbit sitting in her lap!? Peeper loved this and had many questions, including 'why doesn't he run away?'

-meeting up with other knitbloggers, including Frecklegirl Jess, who was in the midst of her exciting Ravelry whirlwind promotional tour. She and her posse were gleefully handing out buttons and promoting Ravelry, which is basically my new reason for living. She patiently explained that it will soon be ready for any and all to use but that at the moment she and her husband are working as fast as they can to get it ready for such a huge volume of users. She is such a friendly person and what she has created is so deeply impressive. Right on Frecklegirl!

-meeting the folks from Green Mountain Spinnery who introduced Peeper to an old fashioned device. No, not a ye olde spinning wheel; rather a 1980's sliding credit card machine! She was very intrigued...

-watching Peeper be interviewed for the LetsKnit2gether video podcast about knitting! Her killer line: "I prefer to knit only with corn....".

But please don't think that MDS&W is all fun and games. There were lowlights which included hearing people play hammered dulcimers (At a fiber festival? Do we have to?), seeing several creative anachronism people walking around in clothing made out of leather hides, experiencing craven fishwife types actually pushing and grabbing Socks that Rock at the Fold booth (?), and my personal favorite gaffe, celebrity stalking Eunny Jang in the IK booth:

Eunny: "Hello"

Me: (nervous, weird voice) "Umm...hi...congratulations...I love the Anemoi pattern, really....(dry mouth prevents swallowing).

Eunny: "Thank you."

Me: "Umm...ok...Endpaper Mitts were a ....really great project.....seriously, congratulations....bye...." (Awkwardly lingering around the booth to the point that confused daughter was giving me a puzzled 'what's your damage' type of glare.) No, not my finest moment. But those funnel cakes sure were the perfect antidote to my embarrassment!

I suppose you're wondering about purchases... Well rest assured, I did manage to acquire some yarn and other various and sundry items. But seeing as I'd like to wake up in the morning with my marriage intact, I'll leave most of it to your imagination, except these:

OK, I dropped some serious coin at the Crippenworks both. I have up until now convinced myself that I didn't really need needle cases. Then I saw the work of Katharyn Crippen Shapiro and quickly revised that notion. She is such a gifted artist with an eye for sharp, vintage-y fabrics. Score one for me!! DRMC: You know I love you baby, but sometimes a girl just has to get her knitting retail groove on, k?

This was my first MDS & W, so please excuse a newbie's unbridled enthusiasm. I am sure that you'll read many different accounts of the event, but I am here to tell you that these two chicks with sticks had an amazing day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The Green Gable, she is done. This pattern was an absolute gas for the first 1/3 of it. The neck was quite enthralling and quickly followed by the 'putting the sleeves on waste yarn' excitement. But after that it was a slow descent into stockinette hell that seemed to last an eternity. It's a discouraging feeling to spend 8 hours of solid knitting (I was a judge for a student film contest and sat through an 8 hour screening) and only emerge with less than 3 inches. Maybe my goals are unrealistic, but still! I am nonetheless happy with the finished product but won't be casting on for another one anytime time soon.

The Specs:

Pattern: The Green Gable, Zephyr knits (but you knew that)

Yarn: Valley Yarns Longmeadow in Lettuce. Love this yarn, it's shimmery and has the perfect cotton/micro blend, not to mention the nice price of $3.49/ball.

Needles: Size 6 addi turbos, natch!

Modifications: The only modification was that I cast on three extra stitches at the underarms as I was afraid of it being tight in that area (given my well endowed-ness;). I didn't want to look like a hunched up uncle Fester after all. I am glad I did this as it is not tight at all.

Finishing the Green Gable represents a triumph of sorts. It was the only large project (not counting a cardigan that I'm frogging very soon) in my basket o' wips, which means that I temporarily had the psychic space to contemplate another larger project. Since Nature hates a void, I quickly remedied this by casting on some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool for the Audrey
tank from 'Sophisticated Lady--Book 4'. My love of Scandinavian everything is well documented on this blog, so it should not be a surprise that I am turning to this pattern, even though the title 'sophisticated lady' makes me want to gag. So far I am loving the hand of this yarn and recommend it to all...

My wish for all of you is that find a project, large or small, to occupy your free time during these gorgeous spring days!